We now conclude our quotation from Hodge as he refutes the Romish view of the Lord’s Supper in his Systematic Theology, Vol. III, 688-692: “5. The doctrine of the sacrificial character of the Eucharist, is an integral part of the great system or error, which must stand or fall as a whole. Romanism is another gospel. It proposes a different method of salvation from that presented in the word of God. It teaches that no one can be saved who is out of the pale of that visible society of which the pope of Rome is the head; and that all are saved who die within that pale. It teaches that no one can be regenerated who is not baptized; and that there is no forgiveness for post-baptismal sins, except by the sacraments of penance and absolution at the hands of the priest. It teaches that no one can have the benefit of the Lord’s Supper, who does not receive it at the hands of a properly ordained officer of the Church of Rome. It teaches that there is no valid ministry, and that there are no valid ordinances except in the line of the apostolic succession as recognized by the pope. It follows men beyond the grave. It teaches that the souls in purgatory are still under the power of the keys; that their stay in that place or state of torment, can be prolonged or shortened at the will of the Church. The pope assumes, and has often pretended to exercise, the power of granting indulgences for even a thousand years. This whole theory hangs together. If one assumption be false, the whole is false. And if the theory in its primary principle of a perpetual apostleship, infallible in teaching and of plenary power in government and discipline, be false, then every particular doctrine involving that principle must be false. (How true is this remark of Hodge! Rome believes in the infallibility of the pope. This surely means that whenever the pope speaks officially he is inspired, and could therefore not make a mistake. If, then, it is proven that the pope has made a mistake in the past, then the whole theory of his infallibility falls to the ground, lies crumbled in the dust. And it is not difficult to show that he has erred in the past.—H.V.)
“Moehler, whose philosophical and mitigated Romanism, has called down upon him no little censure from his stricter brethren, represents the doctrine of the Eucharist as the point in which all the differences between Romanists and Protestants converge. On the view taken of this doctrine depends the question whether the Christian Church has a true living ‘cultus’ or not. With him the Church, of course, is the body, which, professing the true religion, is united in the reception of the same sacraments, in subjection to bishops canonically consecrated, and especially to the pope of Rome. For him, and all Romanists, this Church is Christ. He dwells in it; animates it, operates through it exclusively in the salvation of men. The teaching of the Church is his teaching; its commands are his commands; He regenerates only through its sacrament of baptism; He remits sin only through the sacrament of penance; He strengthens in confirmation; He nourishes his people with his body and blood in the Eucharist; and in the ordination of priests He appoints the organs through which all this is done by his ceaseless activity. ‘The church,’ says Moehler, is vicariously Christ manifested and working through all time. The Redeemer did not merely live eighteen hundred years ago, and then disappear, to be remembered only as a historical person as any other of the departed; on the contrary He is ever living in the Church.’ Romanists, therefore, practically take away Christ, and give us the Church in his stead. It is to be remembered that by the Church they do not mean the body consisting of true believers, but the external, organized body of which the pope is the head. It is this body represented in history by the Hildebrands, the Borgias, and the Leos, which Romanism puts in the place of Christ, clothing it with his prerogatives, and claiming for it the obedience, the reverence, and the confidence due to God alone. It is against this theory, which practically puts man in the place of God, that the most fearful denunciations of the Scriptures are pronounced.”
THE ZWINGLIAN VIEW
Huldreich or Ulrich Zwingli was born January 1, 1484, seven weeks after Luther, in a lowly Shepherd’s cottage at Wildhaus in the country of Toggenburg, now belonging to the Canton St. Gall.
He was descended from the leading family in this retired village. His father, like his grandfather, was the chief magistrate; his mother, the sister of a priest; his uncle, on the father’s side, dean of the chapter at Wesen on the wild lake of Wallenstadt. He had seven brothers (he being the third son) and two sisters.
Zwingli was educated in the Catholic (Roman) religion by his God-fearing parents, and by his uncle, the dean of Wesen, who favored the new humanistic learning. He grew up a healthy, vigorous boy, had at a very early age a tender sense of veracity.
Comparing Zwingli and Luther, Philip Schaff writes as follows: “The training of Zwingli for his life-work differs considerably from that of Luther. This difference affected their future work, and accounts in part for their collision when they met as antagonists in writing, and on one occasion (at Marburg) face to face, in a debate on the real presence (of Christ in the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper.—H.V.). Comparisons are odious when partisan or sectarian feeling is involved, but necessary and useful if impartial.
“Both Reformers were of humble origin, but with this difference: Luther descended from the peasantry, and had a hard and rough schooling, which left its impress upon his style of polemics, and enhanced his power over the common people; while Zwingli was the son of a magistrate, the nephew of a dean and an abbot, and educated under the influence of the humanists, who favored urbanity of manners. Both were brought up by pious parents and teachers in the Catholic faith; but Luther was far more deeply rooted in it than Zwingli, and adhered to some of its doctrines, especially on the sacraments, with great tenacity to the end. He also retained a goodly portion of Romish exclusivism and intolerance. He refused to acknowledge Zwingli as a brother, and abhorred his view of the salvation of unbaptized children and pious heathen.
“Zwingli was trained in the school of Erasmus, and passed from the heathen classics directly to the New Testament. He represents more than any other Reformer, except Melanchthon, the spirit of the Renaissance in harmony with the Reformation. He was a forerunner of modern liberal theology. Luther struggled through the mystic school of Tauler and Staupitz, and the severe moral discipline of monasticism, till he found peace and comfort in the doctrine of justification by faith. Both loved poetry and music next to theology, but Luther made better use of them for public worship, and composed hymns and tunes which are sung to this day.
“Both were men of providence, and became, innocently, reformers of the Church by the irresistible logic of events. Both drew their strength and authority from the Word of God. Both labored independently for the same cause of evangelical truth, the one on a smaller, the other on a much larger field. Luther owed nothing to Zwingli, and Zwingli owed little or nothing to Luther. Both were good scholars, great divines, popular preachers, heroic characters.
“Zwingli broke easily and rapidly with the papal system, but Luther only step, by step, and after a severe struggle of conscience. Zwingli was more radical than Luther, but always within the limits of law and order, and without a taint of fanaticism; Luther was more conservative, and yet the chief champion of freedom in Christ. Zwingli leaned to rationalism, Luther to mysticism; yet both bowed to the supreme authority of the Scriptures. Zwingli had better manners and more self-control in controversy; Luther surpassed him in richness and congeniality of nature. Zwingli was a republican, and aimed at a political and social, as well as an ecclesiastical reformation; Luther was a monarchist, kept aloof from politics and war, and concentrated his force upon the reformation of faith and doctrine. Zwingli was equal to Luther in clearness and acuteness of intellect and courage of conviction, superior in courtesy, moderation, and tolerance, but inferior in originality, depth, and force. Zwingli’s work and fame were provincial; Luther’s, worldwide. Luther is the creator of the modern high German book language, and gave to his people a vernacular Bible of enduring vitality. Zwingli had to use the Latin, or to struggle with an uncouth dialect; and the Swiss Version of the Bible by his faithful friend Leo Judae remained confined to German Switzerland, but is more accurate, and kept pace in subsequent revisions with the progress of exegesis. Zwingli can never inspire, even among his own countrymen, the same enthusiasm as Luther among the Germans, Luther is the chief hero of the Reformation, standing in the front of the battlefield before the Church and the world, defying the papal bull and imperial ban, and leading the people of God out of the Babylonian captivity under the gospel banner of freedom.
“Each was the right man in the right place; neither could have done the work of the other. Luther was foreordained for Germany, Zwingli for Switzerland. Zwingli was cut down in the prime of life, fifteen years before Luther; but, even if he had outlived him, he could not have reached the eminence which belongs to Luther alone. The Lutheran Church in Germany and the Reformed Church of Switzerland stand to this day the best vindication of their distinct, yet equally evangelical Christian work and character.”
Zwingli himself died on the battle-field, in the prime of manhood, aged forty-seven years, nine months, and eleven days, and with him his brother-in-law, his step-son, his son-in-law, and his best friends. He made no use of his weapons, but contented himself with cheering the soldiers. When he had been wounded, and after receiving several other blows, he lifted up his head, and exclaimed: “What matters this misfortune? They may kill the body, but they cannot kill the soul.” These were his last words. When two of the enemy came upon him, and asked him to confess to a priest, or to call upon the dear saints for their intercessions, he shook his head twice, and kept his eyes still fixed on the heavens above. Thereupon a captain of the opposing forces, against whom the Reformer had so often lifted his voice, recognized him by the torch-light, and killed him with the sword, exclaiming, “Die, obstinate heretic.” His body was burned for heresy, his ashes were mingled with the ashes of swine, and scattered to the four winds of heaven. Such was the end of Zwingli’s life, the Swiss Reformer.